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For Immediate Release: November 4, 2013
ACCC Institute Encourages Expansion, Adoption of Electronic Health Information Exchange
While HIE presents new opportunities for care coordination, adoption has been uneven
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) are helping bring better communication and more coordinated care to some physicians and patients, but not to all, according to the new white paper "Cancer Care in the Age of Electronic Health Information Exchange" released by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) Institute for the Future of Oncology. Unanswered questions and subsequent uncertainty around the opportunities and services that HIE has to offer is resulting in uneven adoption, not only in community cancer centers but across the U.S.
Nearly 40 oncologists and cancer care program executives gathered at the inaugural meeting of the Institute, where topics included incentives and barriers to HIE implementation and participation; the potential for HIEs to increase patient empowerment and engagement; and the best ways to break down information silos. Among the paper’s main findings:
- HIE adoption is uneven. Despite the reality that HIEs have the potential to vastly improve patient care, HIE is experiencing patchy adoption and implementation, with the potential being realized in some areas but not others.
- There is a lack of awareness around HIEs. There are many known benefits to participation in an HIE, but information about these benefits needs to be more widely disseminated.
- HIE initiatives must focus on information standardization, so that data can be easily exchanged by providers and viewed by patients.
- HIEs can help benchmark interventions within patient populations. For example, HIEs allow providers to aggregate data, such as hospitalization rates of patients undergoing treatments like chemotherapy, and to compare their results with others.
- Providers must have input on the information released via patient portals. Patient portals can contribute to patient empowerment, but protocols must be put in place so that providers have input on the information released and the timing of that release, and have the opportunity to answer patient questions.
The discussion around electronic health information exchange mirrors one of the key issues identified in the latest Institute of Medicine report on cancer care "Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis." The report notes that health systems need to provide better information to patients and incorporate the use of data—or health information technology—among other recommendations for improving cancer care delivery.
"In an environment where demand for clinical coordination among providers is growing, HIE promises to have a profound impact," says Kim Woofter, RN, OCN, a member of ACCC’s Board of Trustees and Chief Operating Officer of a large physician group practice. "Cancer care is commonly delivered in multiple settings, and access to information through HIE can equip providers and their patients with the information and tools they need to partner in making critical health decisions."
In developing streamlined information exchange systems that benefit patients and providers, the ACCC white paper notes that one size does not fit all and that a variety of options are available. As payment models shift from volume-based to value-based care, differing systems like public, state and regional HIE organizations will become increasingly fitting for creating cost-effective, quality cancer care.
ACCC will continue to analyze HIE trends and their subsequent impacts on cancer care as community cancer centers begin to adopt and implement the varying HIE systems that work best, especially amidst major consolidations.
To learn more about these findings, visit www.accc-cancer.org.